Baby wipes: The good, the bad, and the eco-friendly

I’ve spent a lot of time wiping butts around here over the last 13 months. And every time I do, I use two things: 1. a Diaper. 2. Diaper wipes. Based on that extensive experience (ha), I’m going to be reviewing the various brands of those items I’ve been using, from both a functionality perspective as well as an eco-cred perspective. First on the list: Wipes.

Huggies wipes:

Functionality:  Good. The wipes are thick, meaning you can clean up a baby’s butt fairly easily without having the wipe bunch up on you or make the mess worse. The wipes have a smooth finish which makes it easy to slide it across the baby’s butt. All Huggies wipes are scented, which I’m not fond of. The wipes container is resealable which does a great job at keeping the wipes moist, but it means that if you want to carry wipes with you you do need to move them to a different container as it’s too big to be conveniently portable. 

Eco-cred: Low. They come in a hard plastic container (although you can buy refills in a plastic bag and reuse the container). The wipes themselves are made from cellulose (a wood based fiber) and polypropylene (petroleum-based plastic) and are moistened with water and synthetic cleaning agents. The wipes are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable (while they do say the wipes will “begin to break down over a long period of time“, the vagueness of this claim tells me they won’t biodegrade appreciably anytime soon.) The plastic box and refill bag are both recyclable where facilities exist.

Price$5.85 for a box of 72 wipes at Well.ca and many other retailers.  Refill bag of 144 wipes costs $8.77.

Summary:  

They work very well, and they’re planet-killers. Avoid.

Nature BabyCare Eco Sensitive Wipes – Unscented

Functionality: good. They are not as thick as the Huggies wipes, but they’re still pretty good and don’t bunch up very easily. Unscented. The packaging is soft and flexible, so the good news about this is that you can chuck the wipes in to your purse. The closure on the package (it’s just sticky stuff that you peel off and press back on) does get kind of gummed up and doesn’t close as well after a while, so I often chuck the entire package into a used ziploc bag to carry them around in my purse, just to keep everything dry.

Eco-cred: Moderate, and trying to be better. The wipes are made from biodegradable viscose from sustainably managed forests and are compostable, and the packaging is transitioning – I saw references to the old packaging being chalk-based; Nature Babycare states that the new packaging is in fact biodegradable. The wipes are moistened with water and many organic moisturizers. There are also some chemical preservatives in the wipes including phenoxyethanol.  As a disposable product, these wipes have a one-way trip from manufacture to disposal thus requiring you to use a new wipe every time. While this practice is definitely higher eco-impact, I like what this company is trying to get at: The market for disposable products is huge and will never go away, so let’s try to make a disposable product that’s as eco-friendly as possible and that will lessen the impact overall.  (Although, some of these wipes have found their way in to the washing machine around here and they come out fully intact and actually reusable. Wouldn’t recommend it as a practice, obviously, but it’s interesting.)  These wipes are what we use when we’re out or travelling – I bought a big box in bulk to save on shipping costs and keep them stored for whenever we need them.

Price70 wipes for $4.99 at ecobotts.ca and various online retailers.

Summary:  A good wipe with functional packaging that’s trying to be more planet-friendly. A great choice if disposable is the only way you want (or need) to go.

Cloth wipes

Functionality: excellent.  In terms of cleaning up messes, using cloth wipes beats any other wipe hands down. The thickness, absorbency and size of the cloth means that even the most explosive diaper mess can be cleaned up rapidly, without getting any of the offending substance all over your hands. For use at Casa ecochick, I have about 25 Bamboobino baby washcloths to use as diaper wipes. (I liked the softness of the bamboo cloths, as well as the eco-friendliness of bamboo. Also, bamboo cloth is reputed to have natural anti-bacterial properties, which I liked since the cloths were going to be wet at all times and thus prone to growing things.)  I keep them moist in a container and handy at all times.

Downsides: Effort. Cloth wipes do need to be washed, obviously. If you cloth diaper, the wipes can be washed with the diaper loads. If you do not, you can do individual wipes loads as required – around here we run out of diapers and wipes about every second day. I consider washing diapers and wipes very low effort – throw them in the washer, throw them in the dryer or on the drying rack, stuff and done, taking up about 10 minutes of effort total from me. For the wipes, I simply take the cloths from the washer, fold them into a large container (I use a ziploc container), add a little more water and perhaps a few drops of lavender oil (which is meant to have skin-soothing properties, as well as keeping the wipes smelling nice), put the lid on and voila.

These wipes do discolor and stain after a while, particularly once your child starts eating solids like blueberries. Stains don’t bother me in the least, but if they bother you, a soak in Oxyclean would probably do the trick.

Eco-cred:  High. While the manufacturing process of bamboo, cotton or polyester fabric is high impact, the reusability means that the landfill impact is lessened exponentially. Water and electricity usage to wash the wipes should be considered, and remember that the wipes do not need to be dried in the dryer or otherwise since they will be remaining wet so that energy hog isn’t an issue.

Price:  Bamboobino washcloths–5 for $14 at Bamboobino.com (also available at many other retailers) or for a less expensive alternative try Piccolo Bambino poly-cotton blend washcloths — 12 for $6.99 at Babies R’Us and other retailers.

A word on price:  Even if you go with the expensive bamboo washcloths, you’re coming out way head in the long run. An outlay of $70 for 25 bamboo washcloths costs roughly the same as one box plus seven refills of Huggies wipes, which (assuming use of one package of 70/week) would take you through about three months of diapers.  You can see how using disposables would add up.  I’ve been using our cloth wipes for 13 months and they are still holding up extremely well; I don’t foresee having to replace them at all while my child is in diapers. Even adding in the cost of laundering and soap, by using cloth you’re coming out way ahead financially through the lifetime of diapering your child. 

Summary:  Cloth is by far the best butt-wiper, the best option for your wallet, and the best option for the planet.
 
Disclaimer: All products reviewed in this post were purchased by me. No products were provided for review by any company.

Ecofriendly Fall Gardening

Yeah, it’s August 25. I know, I know. For those of us who are Summer Lovers, it’s high time to mourn. For me, while I do love summer, I also love fall. Crisp evenings, cozy sweaters, finally putting my feet back in to socks and shoes and not worrying about the condition of my toenails.

But did you know your backyard could use a little work too? There are plenty of ecofriendly ways to prime your yard for winter and have it looking its best for next spring.

Fall is a great time to add to your compost pile, as it will decompose all winter. Learn more about great composting practices at Go Organic Gardening.

Organic Gardening has a great Fall Cleanup Guide including how and when to mulch, and what to make sure you don’t miss on the cleanup.

There’s plenty you can do to your lawn to make it look its best come spring – all outlined at The Organic Gardener.

Check the Farmers’ Almanac for weather predictions to plan your gardening and yard work time, as well as figuring out what jobs you should be doing in the garden in August and September.

But most of all – enjoy your garden. Fresh air, outside, helping the planet – there’s nothing better.  

Untangled Living

As a new(ish) mom, it’s really hard to know what you’re going to actually need for your kid. And when. And once you figure out that you need something, there’s usually about 15 different versions of that thing, and you don’t know what’s really good until you get the chance to try it out, and then you end up with a bunch of said item that you don’t like and one you do, so the one gets used and the rest get piled somewhere. (Much to the chagrin of my husband.)

So, I’m here to tell you, that here’s one item you will love.

Untangled Living creates stainless steel children’s dishware. They very kindly sent me a set to test way too long ago, ha. But at the time I received it, my kid wasn’t interested in using cups or bowls or plates or utensils; only now at 13 months is she starting to show some indication that she gets the concept that things like food go inside other things like bowls as opposed to just flinging it across the room. Now that she can be trusted within some level of reasonableness to not just tip her cheerios out of the bowl the second I give it to her, we’re able to use it. Hooray!

The set comes with a kid-sized square plate, little bowl, little cup and a knife and fork.  They’re very simply decorated with either a little gecko or a little butterfly (score big points for tasteful kids’ stuff!) and are perfectly sized for little hands. The plate I particularly love, because it isn’t just a flat plate: it has a nice wide lip all around the edge to keep things from falling off (at least, not falling off *easily*). They’re lightweight, dishwasher safe, totally non-breakable (hear that, glass?) and almost 100% perfect. The only downside: when they do hit the floor they’re kind of loud. But my daughter sees that as an upside, actually, so.

The set retails for $44 CDN. You can order the butterfly or the gecko set (or both!) from their online store, or from one of their fantastic retailers.

But you know what? I have one to give you. Aww. Just go to the Untangled Living website and come back here and tell me in the comments what your favourite part of Untangled Living is by Wednesday, August 25. Make sure you leave me an email address (if you put it in the format name AT domain DOT com it can’t be scraped by a spammer) or another way to contact you. Good luck!

uFabu

So, if you go to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sundays at Landsdowne, you see a gorgeous range of stands. Stands with local fruits and vegetables and meats, some organic. Stands with delicious food to eat then and there. Pretty crafts. And some stands, you walk by them and you smell them before you see them.. the smell of lovely lavender and cinnamon and sweet essential oils.

uFabu is one of those stands.

The gorgeous, indulgent scent is but one reason you should walk in to the uFabu stand, though. There are lots of other reasons, all evident in the beautiful layout of products available.

The quirky, fun, oh-so-stylish (as in, you totally want your friends to see your bath stuff cause it’s so stylin) labels identify their selection of products, categorized by UnderWater (bath salts, soaks and soaps), SkinDeep (creams, rubs, even zinc sunscreens) and In The Mirror (face stuff – scrubs, lip balms).  Eco-friendly, organic as much as possible, preservative-free, look gorgeous on your bathroom or vanity shelf, and beautiful, peace-invoking scents all mean that these products are truly ones you should covet. Of course, if that wasn’t enough: Canadian. Local to the National Capital region. But if you’re not lucky enough to live here, they also conveniently have an online store.